Functional or Not?

What does the word “functional” mean to you?

If you’ve had any sampling of the modern fitness industry, “functional” will probably mean doing exercises that have a high carryover to the motions and actions found in most team sports.

It could just as easily mean standing on a wobble board doing one-handed dumbbell presses, in order to improve “core stability”.

Have you ever stopped to think what “functional” really means, though?

The word itself should give you a hint. A more appropriate definition of functionality would be “the way the body’s systems work in order to create motor output”, to paraphrase the late Mel Siff.

In other words, functional training is a formal way of saying “training to improve how the body works in order to perform in specific ways”.

When somebody says that something is “functional”, the response should be “functional for what?”. Functional training is not just a discrete thing you can point to. It’s not a style of training, as much as people like to quantify training in this way.

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